Monday, April 12, 2010

The Eight Worst Inventions (That People Actually Use)

There are plenty of lists of the year's worst inventions and gadgets, but these are usually full of cheap shots-- they list things that were never used (gas mask brassieres, Snuggies for dogs) or technological failures. For a comprehensive example, check out Gizmodo's Fifty Worst Gadgets of the Decade.

We all know people invent plenty of things that never catch on, and that plenty of gadgets do not work as billed. But these are the inventions that don't make it, so who cares? Plenty of ideas get weeded out in the Darwinian memetic struggle for existence. That's what Malcolm Gladwell's seminal book The Tipping Point is about. My list is different. My list consists of things that have become entrenched in our society, inventions that suck, yet are a part of the fabric of many of our lives. We cannot become free of their stupid grip.

1. The universal remote. I've never used one that actually works.

2. Electric can opener. A hand powered can opener is smaller, faster, and easier to operate.

3. Tupperware. In the old days, if you wanted to save your leftovers, you just put the lid on the pot and threw it into the fridge or icebox or root cellar. And you could remember what was inside because you only had one pot. And you had to finish these leftovers before you could use this pot again. Or you could throw it to the hogs. But food was so scarce that, usually, you cleaned your plate. Maybe you wrapped a piece of chicken in foil.

Now after dinner, there is a futile struggle to match lid shapes and container sizes, to choose the correct container for the amount of food that is leftover (people skilled at this task, at eye-balling the amount of rice in a pot and choosing just the right sized plastic container have what I call Tupper-awareness). And then, after this great struggle, which takes place simultaneously while your para-sympathetic nervous system is trying to digest dinner, you place the little containers in the fridge, where they will remain, unopened, for weeks, until you are cleaning out the fridge and have to open each one, deal with the stench, scrape the stained Tupperware, so you can do it all again.

4. The cell phone. Remember when you could just say, "I'm going out."

5. Lint roller. I polled the office today, and women expressed a great love for this invention, but I'm pretty sure its main use is to be able to legally hit your kid with a stick. Or that's what it felt like when my mother de-linted me when I was a kid..



6. Electric vibrating football. Completely ridiculous concept-- that the tactics, strategy, play calling, and excitement of football could be reproduced with a vibrating board. Almost as stupid as that foosball type hockey game. Foosball isn't so great either, but people seem to like to play it in their basement.

7. Organized religion. Like we don't have enough to worry about?

8. Best/Worst Lists.

46 comments:

Jerry said...

It's (a little) fun to guess which of your team of 50 writes each post without looking at the name. Initial thoughts were Dave based on the topic (not sports and food preparation references). Tupper-awareness sealed it for me.

rob said...

re: number 3. fuck and yes.

rob said...

someone else needs to write a large hadron collider post. it'll rock jerry's world.

TJ said...

Is the eight invention "lists that don't add up to what they promised"?

TJ said...

My 1,700 word piece on Frank Reich might also throw Jerry for a loop.

rob said...

as will whitney's concise exposition of the genius of toto.

zman said...

I have an incredibly insightful soccer post in the works.

TJ said...

Dennis has an extended Magic playoff preview in the hopper.

rob said...

did i say whitney? i, of course, meant cane lover.

TR said...

Anybody else with Jersey blood still fired up today about Toms River's own Frankie Edgar's upset victory over BJ Penn to win the lightweight title on Saturday night's UFC 112 card? Just me?

Jerry said...

http://forumforem.blogspot.com/

TJ said...

Best. Site. Ever.

TR said...

And for the record, I am a fan of lint brushes and tupperware. I hate cell phones and the loud-mouthed strangers who bait me into yelling at them on New Jersey trains.

Dave said...

holy shit-- i wrote this really fast in the ISS room before class started b/c there wasn't much posting action-- i only have seven things on the list.

that was NOT intentional.

does everyone know about stumbleupon? if not, i'm writing a post about it.

TJ said...

Dave also will be writing a post about something called "eBay" and a hidden gem he calls "Wikipedia".

Dave said...

the women in my office are also big fans of lint rollers. i did research for my post.

i guess people know about stmbleupon. that thing is the devil in disguise, i think i may have to remove it from my apple computer.

have you guys heard of this company called apple? they make computers that don't run windows. maybe i should write a post on THAT.

Dave said...

i've also heard rumors that you can somehow "see" naked women on the internet.

TJ said...

Yep - some folks even say, that when the moon is full and the sky clear, you can use this internet thing to place something called "bets" on "sports".

Jerry said...

I object to this entire line of mockery on the grounds of never having heard of stumbleupon.

chip said...

You are dead on about electric can openers. They are borderline Rube Goldberg devices.

You are oh so wrong about lint rollers, one of the great inovations of all time. Don't have a dog I'm guessing?

TJ said...

I heard a commercial for this site on the radio yesterday. The commercial was so over the top I was sure it was a joke. Well, apparently it is not a joke at all:
http://cougarlife.com/

cgormley said...

Dave, I think you should do a post on chatroulette.

Dave said...

apparently, i am the only person in the universe who hates lint rollers.

it really stems from childhood abuse with that thing-- it's probably not so bad if you're using it on yourself.

Dan said...

another dependant here on the lint roller, specifically the one shown...i say it's one of the greatest inventions of our time, or our grandparents'.

my post is going to be a look back on the tribe basketball season.

Mark said...

I'm almost finished with a post following my exploits at various state fairs.

mayhugh said...

I'm really questioning the utility of the cougar site. Couldn't a cub/cougar stroll into any bar and find their counterpart pretty easily? Unless there is some sort of "quality guarantee" I didn't see on the site, it seems they're offering the sizzle without the steak.

Jerry said...

My guess is that the utility is for people of..um...lesser quality.

Or the lazy and/or friendless. Let's not forget about them.

TJ said...

Is anyone else concerned that Dave was beaten with a lint roller as a child, a la Joan Crawford and those damn wire hangers?

Mark said...

My mom beat me with a wooden spoon. So, no, I'm not that concerned.

Dan said...

i'm more concerned about his wardrope than his childhood

Dan said...

make that...wardrobe

TJ said...

Mark, I hear ya. Livin' at home was such a drag my mom even threw away my best porno mag.

Mark said...

Funny you mention that Teej. She used to scream "get out of my house if that's the clothes you're gonna wear!" whilst beating me.

rob said...

at least you cut your hair

Dave said...

i was also beaten with a wooden spoon. what's with the no beating the kids these days?

zman said...

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced. I think it's rigged because none of us won. Not even rhob with his LeBron interview.

http://www.pulitzer.org/

TJ said...

But I'm sure Obama won one...

Dave said...

i tried to read "lord of finance" but there was too much about the lords and not enough about the finance.

zman said...

Whoever dresses Flip Saunders should be fired.

Mark said...

Ben Roethlisberger...nice haircut. If this NFL thing doesn't work out, I think you have a future in professional wrestling.

Mark said...

I hear ya Dave. I felt the same way about "Lords of the Underground".

Mark said...

Brandon Roy, most likely out for the Playoffs. That's two marquee guys (Bogut being the other) on interesting/frisky young playoff teams to go down late in the season and end up out for the Playoffs. This sucks.

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Eric (Extra P.) said...

Yeah. The cell phone seems like a great idea until you realize your wife expects to be able to get ahold of you at a moment's notice any time of the night or day.

Then it becomes a living nightmare. A leash.

Eric (Extra P.) said...

"Dave, I think you should do a post on chatroulette."

Speaking of being an out-of-touch old white guy, for the longest time, I thought this was some french word I was supposed to understand. It took me weeks to catch on that it was chat roulette. And I only figured that out because of the Daily Show. (holla atcha Wren).

Term Papers said...

I have an incredibly insightful soccer post in the works.

Term Papers